Kudzanai Gerede Business Correspondent
Power utility firms in the Southern African region are intensifying greater co-operation in ensuring the electricity generation and transmission challenges among member countries do not continue to affect consistent supply of power which is a key enabler to economic development, it has emerged.
The sub-region endured a stern drought season last year which dried up major power generating water sources leading to a massive power deficit affecting key growth performance.
For instance, South Africa’s mining sector which accounts for a significant proportion of the overall economy suffered immensely owing to rapid power cuts particularly in the gold, chrome and platinum subsectors.
The Southern African country is the world’s leading producer of raw chrome and processed ferrochrome, an essential input for stainless steel manufacturing currently on demand in emerging Asian markets but due to electricity shortages it failed to meet demand last year prompting China, the leading consumer of ferrochrome to set up its own smelter plants to process the raw commodity.
The latest development will also help in building of relevant infrastructure needed for transmission and supply of electricity among regional base stations.
Addressing the media on the side lines of a closed door meeting leading to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the state power utility, ZESA Holdings and South Africa’s Eskom in Harare this Monday morning, Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge said regional power utilities were addressing areas of co-operation in the generation, transmission and trading of power to ensure universal supply including the least developed areas which also needed power for various economic activities.
“We have worked on a strategy that those affected by a power deficit in the region should get power from the neighbouring country with excess power and on the 1st of March we held the Southern African power pool meeting in Bulawayo just to exchange information on electricity,”
“We are addressing both the generation part and the trading side including the transmission because we should ensure that if South Africa has excess power there is enough transmission lines to take it from source were it is required and the same applies with Zimbabwe. Our vision is that every village should receive electricity,” said Minister Undenge.